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No. 9 USC turns up heat late, gets past Oregon 68-54

By DOUG PADILLA
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California showed it has multiple options to deliver when it counts, using a complete team effort for a victory that helped the Trojans regain some momentum.

JuJu Watkins scored 17 points, including eight in the fourth quarter, and No. 9 USC pulled away late for a 68-54 victory Sunday over Oregon.

Rayah Marshall and McKenzie Forbes each scored 16 points as the Trojans (12-1, 2-1 Pac-12) delivered a 2-0 weekend after dropping from No. 6 in last week’s poll following a 71-64 loss to cross-town rival UCLA. It was USC’s 16th consecutive home victory dating back to last season.

“You know, we talked about it after the UCLA game that the next 17 (in conference) are the most important and the only ones we can attack right now are the two in front of us,” USC coach Lindsay Gottlieb said, recalling her mantra to the team before the weekend began. “This conference is so tough and to have a whole weekend coming off the UCLA game, we knew they were must wins.”

Watkins and Marshall each had nine rebounds. It was the second-lowest scoring game of the season for the freshman Watkins after she entered with a team-best 26.9 points per game. Watkins also had six assists.

“You have to pick your poison,” Gottlieb said of her team showing an abundance of scoring options. “If you’re going to try to sell out on (Watkins) and make it tougher, she’s gonna get you in different ways. And she’s a two-way player. She’s going to get a ton of deflections, she can block shots and she’s obviously more than just a scorer.”

Grace VanSlooten scored 18 points, while Chance Gray and Sofia Bell each scored 11 added for Oregon (9-7, 0-3), which dropped both games on their trip to Los Angeles. Phillipina Kyei scored 10 points with 11 rebounds for the Ducks.

It was the Ducks’ second consecutive loss to the Trojans, both at Los Angeles, since their 12-game winning streak in the matchup ended in last February.

“I thought we played pretty well and gave ourselves a chance,” said Oregon head coach Kelly Graves, who used four starters that are either freshmen or sophomores. “Unfortunately, they made the plays down the stretch when we didn’t execute very well and they can rely on a couple of really good, elite players. We kind of played a little young there at the end.”

Both teams got off to a sluggish start after an early-afternoon tip, with USC going 1 of 6 from the field to start the game and Oregon going 0 of 7 after making their first two shots for an early lead.

THE TAKEAWAY

Oregon: What appeared to be a rugged schedule to start conference play was just that for the Ducks, who have Pac-12 defeats against Oregon State, UCLA and USC, all on the road. The Ducks play five of their next seven games at home. The last of that seven-game stretch is a rematch against Oregon State.

Southern California: Consecutive victories over Oregon State and Oregon at home give the Trojans momentum heading into next weekend’s rematch against No. 2 UCLA at home.

UP NEXT

Oregon: Hosts Arizona State on Friday

Southern California: Hosts No. 2 UCLA on Jan. 14

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AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball

Article Topic Follows: ap-california-news

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